Former Vital Stats Building Abandoned…With Files Inside

In April, 2013, the Vital Statistics Department was relocated from Gabourel Lane to the corner of Hyde’s Lane and New Road in Belize City. The official rationale for the move was that service would improve tremendously, and so would efficiency and the convenience to the public. Well that certainly hasn’t happened…but what has, is that the four-storey building on Gabourel Lane has been left to deteriorate. News Five heard about the situation on Monday and today went to take a look….which wasn’t too hard since the building doesn’t even have a front door. Mike Rudon has that story.

Mike Rudon, Reporting

If you’re in the market for some prime real estate, then we’ve got just the spot for you. Just minutes from downtown Belize City…a quiet, mostly residential, upscale area…hey, just check out the view from the fourth floor. Okay, we’ll admit it’s a little bit of a fixer-upper – but some minor work on the ceilings, walls, windows, floors, bathrooms and just about everything else, and it’ll be as good as new. Like we said, prime real estate and people are already taking notice.

Dickie Bradley

Dickie Bradley, Talk Show Host

“When I passed by St. Mary’s Church, the government had purchased a building which is where I think at one time the Legal Aid Centre was at that building, births and deaths were at that building. That building has been gutted, completely abandoned. The government has just left a three-storey cement building to go and rent somewhere from a politician at Hyde’s Land where you can’t even park for a few minutes.”

Actually this four-storey building located on Gabourel Lane is owned by the Government of Belize. It once housed the Vital Stats Department, but exactly two years ago G.O.B. made the decision to relocate, and instead pay rent for the second floor of this building which is owned by the Santiago Castillo Group of Companies. Since then the building has been completely abandoned. The front door is completely torn off. All the windows and shutters and just about anything that could be removed have been stolen. It’s wide open to the elements and has become a home for rodents, vagrants and junkies.

The building is also home to files…hundreds and hundreds of files which were abandoned.

Francis Fonseca

Francis Fonseca, P.U.P. Leader

“If you go up to that building, that abandoned building, there are hundreds of files just scattered there, left there on the ground…people’s personal data, personal information.”

And a lot of it…in fact there are garbage bags full of files on the second floor. We found applications for birth certificates complete with signatures and stamps, birth and death entries, marriage certificates, binders full of documents, receipt books – a mother lode of personal, supposedly confidential information just left to rot. On the third floor, we found hundreds more files, left behind from when this area was used as a Legal Aid Centre. We found some on shelves, the rest scattered on the floor, discarded like useless trash.

What will become of the files is anybody’s guess. What will become of the abandoned building is also anybody’s guess. But where the move to a new location is concerned, the government says it was completely justified. And, we guess, there’s also nothing wrong with paying rent for that new location while a large, spacious, government-owned building is left to fall to pieces. Mike Rudon for News Five.

Channel 5